There's an interesting piece at Earth 911 about Starbucks and their recycling/recycled cup drama. Personally, I prefer local coffee vendors, but plenty of folks like Starbucks, so...
The problem; Starbucks serves up an estimated 3 billion paper cups of coffee each year along with an additional 1 billion plastic cups of coffee which as you might expect, results in untold trash. The major issue is that the plastic coating on these cups keeps them from being recyclable in most areas. Even if you wanted to recycle them you can't in most cases.
Based on these issues, Starbucks hosted its second annual Cup Summit right around Earth Day this year. The summit brought together municipalities, raw material suppliers, cup manufacturers, retail and beverage businesses, recyclers, nonprofit organizations and academic experts to drive the development of solutions to make single-use paper and plastic cups more broadly recyclable.
The cup summit was private but there was a live chat offered with Senge and Jim Hanna, director of Environmental Impact for Starbucks and questions submitted via Twitter were answered live for about 30 minutes - many of these questions were related to recycling. Starbucks said, “We define a recyclable cup not by what the cup is made out of but by our customers actually having access to recycling services.” That's a way to toss recycling off as not Starbucks fault, but the recycling industry's fault basically.
I actually don't blame Starbucks at all really. It's your choice as a consumer to go there or not and it's also 100% your choice to use a reusable mug vs. taking one of their cups. While Starbucks has a goal to make100% of their cups recyclable by 2015, what does it really matter? Making cups, even recycled ones take energy and resources. Recycling the cups takes resources.
What uses fewer resources is when consumers get their act together and carry reusable cups. It's not hard and you've got 100s of cup choices. You can even leave one in your car for spur of the moment coffee breaks.
We could keep blaming Starbucks, but to me that's basically like when people blame fast food for obesity. It's like people think that humans have zero ability to make choices - but we do. That's the rub.
What do you think? Blame Starbucks or buck up and take responsibility?